You are using the web browser we don't support. Please upgrade or use a different browser to improve your experience.
"icon arrow top"
Back to blog articles

How To Become A Supply Teacher?

03 May 2020

How To Become A Supply Teacher?

By Mark Richards

 

Roles and responsibilities

A supply teacher covers lessons for an absent teacher. Usually, a lesson plan will be provided for a supply teacher to follow. However, the quality of such plans vary. Having a bank of lesson plans/ideas of your own to dip into is often a godsend for schools who are trying to put together cover work for sick colleagues at the last minute.

Supply teachers can be expected to actively teach a class, rather than to simply supervise and manage a class. Supply teachers can be asked to mark work. The longer a placement, the more a supply teacher’s role becomes similar to that of a normal teacher - in terms of lesson planning, marking and so on.

 

Benefits of being a supply teacher

One of the key qualities needed to be a supply teacher – flexibility – is also one of the major benefits of the role. You need to be flexible to take on work at short notice or to teach different subjects, for example.

However, you decide when and how often you work as a supply teacher, so it gives you the opportunity to juggle the role with other work and/or personal commitments.

Supply teaching also provides the opportunity to have regular employment at any time of the year, without the ties and responsibilities of having a full-time teaching contract.

 

How to become a supply teacher

The best way to become a supply teacher is to sign up with agencies who will then try to find you suitable work. They will take you through their own application process, check qualifications and references and interview you about your preferences. For example, some supply teachers will only want to work in particular types of school, or to teach only certain subjects.

Once they have gathered your preferences and availability, they will contact you with suitable placements to consider.

Local authorities and individual schools can also employ supply teachers by direct arrangement. If you have a particular relationship with a particular LA or school, this option is certainly worth exploring.

 

Qualification requirements

You need to hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to be a supply teacher. This will means you will also need to hold a relevant degree. Minimum requirements – such as in numeracy and literacy – will have already need to have been demonstrated before and during your initial teacher training.

Some academies, free schools and independent schools do allow unqualified teachers to work as supply teachers. However, this limits your work opportunities, and the pay you are offered may be affected as a result.

 

Other requirements

There is no point beating around the bush: supply teaching can be extremely tough and can sometimes feel like a thankless task.

Regardless of how experienced you might be and what qualifications you hold – including QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), you are still essentially walking into the unknown, potentially, on any given day at work.

Any teacher will agree that a big factor in teaching successful lessons is the relationship you have with pupils. What’s more, knowing the policies of a school – in terms of behaviour – and what expectations are is also important.

As a supply teacher, you are walking into unfamiliar territory. So, you need be flexible and quick-minded. You need to be able to show your own initiative and to draw on all your behaviour management skills.

‘Going the extra mile’ is important. Supply teachers that do show initiative or take the time to tidy a classroom up at the end of the day are the supply teachers that are likely to be invited back for more work.

 

What is the difference between a supply teacher, cover supervisor and a teaching assistant?

A teaching assistant normally works purely under the direction of a class teacher in the classroom. Typically, a TA will be supporting a particular child/children with specific learning difficulties and/or disabilities. A cover supervisor literally supervises a class and ensures that they stay on task and complete the work that their normal class teacher has set for them. Cover supervisors need not hold qualified teaching status and are not expected to teach, mark or plan.

A supply teacher is a cover teacher that is supplied to the school – usually through an agency – to cover for an absent teacher. Although they usually deliver plans that are given to them, they are expected to ‘teach’ and deliver a lesson, rather than simply supervise a class as they work. Supply teachers may mark work and are sometimes employed on short-term contracts to cover a teacher’s longer term absence. In these sort of situations, a supply teacher takes on more responsibility. Indeed, their role can become almost akin to that of a normal class teacher.

 

Options for experienced supply teaching

The most obvious career option for an experienced supply teacher is to move into full-time teaching – either again or for the first time. Short-term contracts, maternity cover, and even full-time permanent positions sometimes follow from successful supply teaching placements.

 

Supply teaching jobs - temporary or permanent?

Most supply teachers placements are on a daily basis, sometimes with a phone call from your agency early in the morning to see if you are available to work on that day.

Supply teachers can be employed by direct arrangement with schools. Although rare, this kind of arrangement will usually result in a higher pay rate.

In recent years, more and more supply teachers have been engaged on longer placements to cover longer-term staff absence. This usually commands a higher rate of pay, but normally the supply teacher will then be expected to take on much more responsibility for lesson planning and marking.

Supply teachers employed by local authorities, schools and agencies are legally entitled to holiday pay.

 

Salary Range

Pay rates for supply teaching vary considerably across the country. In London, typical daily rates are between £110 and £220. For the rest of the country, daily pay ranges from £100 to £160.

If employed through an agency – as the majority of supply teachers are – the agency will take a cut of the overall fee charged to the school. All agencies are required to make it clear what the supply teacher’s actual gross pay per day will be.

Supply teachers can be employed by direct arrangement with schools. Although rare, this kind of arrangement will usually result in a higher pay rate.

In recent years, more and more supply teachers have been engaged on longer placements to cover longer-term staff absence. This usually commands a higher rate of pay, but normally the supply teacher will then be expected to take on much more responsibility for lesson planning and marking.

Supply teachers employed by local authorities, schools and agencies are legally entitled to holiday pay.

 

When and where to find?

Employment agencies are the best way to find supply teaching work. Avoid the temptation to sign up to as many agencies as possible. It doesn’t necessarily follow that this will result in more work. In fact, the likelihood is that you’ll be given a greater number of unsuitable placements.

It is better to sign up with just a couple of agencies – ones that have been recommended to you or that have good reviews. Forming a good relationship with the agency consultants will mean that they offer you placements that are really suited to you.         

 

Related Topics

1- How to Become a Maths Teacher

2- How to Become a Science Teacher

3- Top Tips for Managing Change in the School

 

We encourage our readers to share their knowledge.

Do you have an idea, view, opinion or suggestion which could interest others in the education sector?

Are you a writer? Would you like to write and have your article published on The Educator?

If you are connected with the education sector or would like to express your views, opinion on something required policymakers’ attention, please feel free to send your contents to editorial@theeducator.com